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Persistent disabling breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors Sundh J, Ekström M

Received 17 August 2016

Accepted for publication 20 September 2016

Published 9 November 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 2805—2812


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Josefin Sundh,1 Magnus Ekström2

1Department of Respiratory Medicine, School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden; 2Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

Objective: To determine the prevalence, change in breathlessness status over time, and risk factors for disabling and persistent disabling breathlessness in relation to treatments in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Materials and methods: Longitudinal analysis of data from the Swedish National Register of COPD with breathlessness measured using modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) scores at two subsequent visits. Prevalence of disabling breathlessness (mMRC ≥2 at baseline) and persistent disabling breathlessness (disabling breathlessness at baseline and follow-up) was investigated in relation to COPD treatment. Risk factors for disabling breathlessness, change from non-disabling to disabling breathlessness, and persistent disabling breathlessness were analyzed using multiple logistic regression.
Results: A total of 1,689 patients were included in the study with a median follow-up of 12 months (interquartile range: 4 months). Prevalence of disabling breathlessness was 54% at baseline. Persistent disabling breathlessness was present in 43% of patients despite treatment and in 74% of patients despite combined inhaled triple therapy and physiotherapy. Risk factors for disabling breathlessness or change to disabling breathlessness were higher age, lower lung function, frequent exacerbations, obesity, heart failure, depression, and hypoxic respiratory failure (all P<0.05). Persistent disabling breathlessness was associated with lower lung function and ischemic heart disease (all P<0.05).
Disabling breathlessness is common in COPD despite treatment, which calls for improved symptomatic treatments and consideration of factors influencing disabling breathlessness. Factors influencing disabling breathlessness should be considered for COPD management.

Keywords: COPD, breathlessness, dyspnea, longitudinal analysis, treatment, risk factors

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